Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 30 Jan 1991

Vol. 404 No. 4

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take Nos. 3 and 9. It is also proposed, subject to the agreement of the House, that: (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 9.15 p.m. today and business shall be interrupted and the Dáil shall adjourn when the motion for the General Financial Resolution has been moved; (2) the sitting shall not be suspended today at 1.30 p.m.; (3) No. 3 shall be interrupted at 2.30 p.m. and shall not be resumed today; (4) following the Budget Statement of the Minister for Finance and the statements of the spokespersons for the parties in Opposition, the sitting shall be suspended for 30 minutes; and (5) there will be no Private Members' Business this week.

May I ask if the proposal for the late sitting and adjournment is agreed? Agreed. Is it agreed that the sitting shall not be suspended today at 1.30 p.m. as usual? Agreed. Is it agreed that No. 3 shall be interrupted at 2.30 p.m. and shall not be resumed today? Agreed. Are the proposals for the suspension of the sitting after the Budget Statement by the Minister for Finance and the statements of the main Opposition spokespersons agreed? Agreed. Is it agreed that there shall be no Private Members' Business this week? Agreed.

In view of the ongoing war in the Gulf and the concerns to which it gives rise in regard to the economic security and the personal security of Irish citizens, will the Taoiseach state if he proposes to establish any mechanism for consultation with the parties in this House on a confidential basis or otherwise about security matters or foreign affairs, perhaps by the appointment of a foreign affairs committee? Further, in view of the importance of security generally at the present time, would the Taoiseach agree that the time has come for a full-time Minister for Defence to be appointed as was envisaged in past practice and in the normal operation of this House? If he does agree, will he indicate when he proposes to ask for time here for the appointment of an addditional Minister?

Certain of the matters adverted to by the Deputy——

We will not have an additional Minister, we will only have the ordinary complement of Ministers.

I was going to say that certain of the matters adverted to by the Deputy are such as could be raised in another way. However, does the Taoiseach wish to intervene?

On the question of a foreign affairs committee, I propose to have discussions, beginning tomorrow if possible, with a view to seeing whether we can agree on the form a foreign affairs committee might take.

Secondly, with regard to the question of consultation, I will of course be ready to hold confidential discussions with the party leaders should any occasion to do so arise.

When is the Taoiseach going to appoint a Minister for Defence?

Very soon now.

Deputy Spring is offering.

I seek clarification on two matters, one of which I should like to bring to the attention of the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture and Food who might clarify the position. Is the Taoiseach aware that the Department of Agriculture and Food are not taking any queries or communications from TDs? Can anything be done about that or does it just reflect the state of chaos in that Department at present?

The matter may not be debated now, Deputy.

It is a matter of very serious importance.

There are other ways in which it can be raised.

Secondly, will the Taoiseach indicate whether it is his intention or the intention of the Minister for the Environment to make a statement in relation to criminal charges which have been brought against a senior planning officer of An Bord Pleanála? Will a statement be made in that regard or can the Taoiseach at least assure this House that it is not the tip of the iceberg in regard to planning scandals?

I would much prefer it if the Deputy would deal with that matter in another way. Let us be very careful not to impinge on matters which may well be sub judice. Deputy Proinsias De Rossa.

May I ask the Taoiseach a number of questions? First, is it proposed to bring the draft Programme for Economic and Social Progress before the House for approval and, if so, when? Will he indicate whether he proposes to enable this House to debate the developments in the Gulf war where at least one of the allies involved in the war have indicated that they intend to go beyond the mandate of the Security Council? In view of the fact that we have already supported this resolution it is important that we have an opportunity to address this issue.

I would prefer it if the Deputy would pursue that matter in another way. There are many ways open to the Deputy to do so.

On the question of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, I have already indicated that the programme will be brought before the House for approval.

It will be done as early as possible.

In the absence of the Minister for Finance, may I ask the Taoiseach if he can indicate to the House when the legislation to give effect to changes in ministerial pensions, Members' allowances and other matters relating to the conditions of employment of all people on the Oireachtas staff will be brought before the House? This legislation is not listed in the B list which was circulated yesterday.

It is in the pipeline.

A Deputy

Pipelines are not as safe as they used to be.

Can we anticipate that this legislation, which will have an impact on everybody who works in this House and partly relates to an industrial dispute which took place before Christmas, will be introduced before June of this year?

I hope there will be no question of Deputies engaging in industrial action.

We have enough on our plate at the moment.

I call Deputy McCartan.

This is important legislation but it is not listed on the B list which was circulated yesterday. This is a matter of some concern to us since it was promised on a number of occasions before Christmas.

It is at the drafting stage.

Thank you.

Deputy McCartan has been called.

Before the Christmas recess it was indicated that the Government and the Minister for Justice would circulate early in the New Year the promised amendment to the Solicitors Act, 1954. There is no reference to a solicitors amendment Bill on either the immediate or proposed list of Bills circulated. I should like to ask the Taoiseach what has happened to that very important legislation. Perhaps it would appear on the list sooner if one of the portfolios was taken away from the holder.

The Deputy is bringing in extraneous matter now. Is there a reply to the earlier query?

Again, the legislation is going through the process. As the Deputy knows, there were developments which we will have to take on board but the drafting is well advanced.

Can the Taoiseach give some indication as to when this legislation is likely to be circulated? Will it be circulated during this session?

It is not likely to be circulated during this session but I will see if it can be expedited.

Deputy Gay Mitchell has been offering.

May I ask if the practice of distributing the Minister for Finance's budget speech to only some Members of the House will be departed from today? During the time of one of your predecessors every Member of the House was given a copy of the speech. However, that practice has lapsed and only some Members of the House now get a copy of the Minister's speech. In view of the fact that the budget debate will be broadcast live, may I ask the Taoiseach if he will make copies of the Minister's speech available to all Members of the House at the same time since we are all equal Members of the House?


Hear, hear.

I have two brief queries. May I ask the Taoiseach when it is intended to bring forward the bus competition Bill, as promised by the Minister for Tourism and Transport? Secondly, in view of the outrageous cases being brought before various District Courts relating to moneylenders, both legal and illegal, who are charging unfortunate people in financial difficulties exorbitant rates of interest, up to 1,300 per cent in some cases, may I ask the Taoiseach when it is intended to bring in the legislation to implement the EC directive on consumer credit which was promised——

I thought Deputy Byrne had something strictly relevant to the Order of Business to raise.

It is promised legislation.

It is proposed legislation — a bus competition Bill and a Bill to implement an EC directive on consumer credit.

Is this the position, Taoiseach?

Both of these matters are well advanced.

Now that the Taoiseach is considering committees, I want to jog his memory in relation to the committee on crime. Can the Taoiseach tell me when it is proposed to establish this committee? Will he arrange to have discussions on this matter with the leader of our party in the next week or so? I read with interest yesterday that Mr. Brooke intends holding discussions tomorrow with the Minister for Justice in relation to extradition law. May I ask the Taoiseach if we will be given an opportunity to discuss the outcome of those talks after tomorrow's meeting?

Perhaps I should answer the first question. I am certain the Chair would rule me out of order if I attempted to answer the second one.

It is not strictly relevant.

The Deputy knows very well the position in regard to the committee on crime — we are very anxious to have it established.

I am only new in the job.

I hope the Deputy makes a success of it.

Is the Deputy coming in again on the same topic?

Can the Taoiseach tell me the position in regard to the committee on crime?

The Deputy knows very well the position in regard to the committee on crime. We were all ready to go ahead with it but suddenly at the last minute the Deputy's party upset the apple cart.

They are truly sorry now.

May I remind the Taoiseach that when I was Government Whip one of the conditions he insisted on in regard to the establishment of a committee on crime was that one of the Opposition spokespersons would be chairperson of the committee.


If the Deputy's party are prepared to be reasonable in that matter we can have the committee tomorrow morning.

In regard to the Local Government Bill which is on the B list which has been circulated to us, may I ask the Taoiseach if, in view of the fact that the local elections are due to take place in June, he can give us a more precise indication as to when that Bill will be circulated? Is it still the Government's intention to have that Bill enacted so that the local elections will take place on the basis of new local government structures?

It is intended to proceed, if not in this session then certainly in the next, with the local government reform legislation.

Does the Taoiseach accept that if the Local Government Bill is left until the next session it will not be enacted in time for the local elections in June? Could he therefore give us a firm indication that the Bill will be circulated this session so that it can——

There must be no tendency to debate the matter now.

I think the Deputy might acknowledge that I am very well aware of the parliamentary constraints. I have some experience of getting legislation through this House and I suggest that he leave the matter entirely in my hands.

A local solution to a local problem.

I do not want to delay the House but it seems absurd that about 80 Members of the House, half the House, will get a copy of the budget speech and the other half will not. Perhaps the Taoiseach would give consideration to the suggestion that all Members of the House get a copy of the budget speech.

The Deputy has already referred to that matter.

It is the only opportunity I have to raise the matter.

Please, Deputy Mitchell, we cannot afford the luxury of repetition at this stage of the proceedings.

It is an absurdity that——

I am calling Deputy Therese Ahearn.

May I ask the Taoiseach when it is intended to bring forward the Colleges Bill, in view of it being promised before Christmas? Can we expect it in this session?

It is listed for this session, so the Deputy must hope for the best.

On promised legislation, may I ask the Taoiseach to draw on his depth of long experience to say when in the current session we might expect the much-promised part-time workers Bill? Does the Taoiseach not agree that in the present unsettled market conditions it is the height of folly to proceed with the privatisation of the Irish Sugar Company and that we should put that matter in abeyance in favour of proceeding with the part-time workers Bill?

That is a matter that can be adverted to on proposals before us today.

In setting up committees would the Taoiseach consider setting up a committee to deal with Border areas? It is becoming increasingly difficult to cross the Border because of the security arrangement of the British Army on the northern side of the Border, making people's use of the Border very restricted. In this regard I tabled a question to the Taoiseach asking him to deal with the matter but it was referred to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Does the Taoiseach consider that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is the appropriate person to deal with matters relating to this State and to Northern Ireland?

Please, Deputy Harte, I submit that it is a wide-ranging matter and one for another time. The Chair will facilitate the Deputy in raising the matter at a more appropriate time. It is not in order now.

I agree, a Cheann Comhairle, but if you were living in a Border area you would discover that there is now a curfew and that the restriction of movement——

I have indicated my sympathy, understanding and support for the Deputy's point of view, but the matter should be raised at a more appropriate time.

Would the Taoiseach like to comment on what is happening in Border areas at the moment?

I would like to ask the Taoiseach to clarify the situation in relation to the legislation to establish a national roads authority. Umpteen promises have been made in this regard, the last of which was that the legislation would be published at the end of January 1991, which is tomorrow. Perhaps the Taoiseach would indicate when this legislation will be published and whether it will be taken in this session.

It is on the list and it is hoped to take it this session.

When will it be published?

Very soon.

Níl aon tagairt sna liostaí A agus B atá scaipthe thart nó aon leasú san Acht um Údarás na Gaeltachta. Ba mhaith liom an cheist seo a chur ar an Taoiseach mar Aire Gaeltachta: an bhfuil sé ar intinn aige aon Bhille a thabhairt isteach chun an bun Acht um Údarás na Gaeltachta a leasú nó an bhfuil aon Bhille eile faoi chúrsaí Gaeltachta nó Gaeilge ar intinn aige don téarma seo?

An bhfuil an Bille geallta?

Níl aon ní geallta?

Tá brón orm ach níor chuala mé an freagra.

An bhfuil an Bille seo geallta?

Tá sé geallta.

Níl aon ghealltanas.

An mbeidh Bille ag leasú an bhun Bhille um Údarás na Gaeltachta nó an mbeidh aon Bhille eile atá ag baint le cúrsaí Gaeltachta nó cúrsaí Gaeilge á chur faoi bhráid an Tí sa téarma seo?

Níl aon Bhille geallta.